Friday FOIA Stuff

Yes, it’s Friday, which means it’s time for another edition of Friday FOIA Stuff. What with one thing and another, I didn’t get the chance to make a post last Friday, so this covers updates to the gripping saga of my ongoing attempts to wheedle interesting “records” from various government bodies here and abroad.

For two weeks’ time, I’m afraid there’s not a whole lot to report…

As regular readers may have surmised, the “overdue” response from Her Majesty’s Ministry of Defense finally arrived – the short and surprisingly un-entertaining environmental medical report on bagpipes I posted a few days ago. Reading it makes a decent way to kill a few minutes, if you’re so inclined. The fine men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation replied with “no records found” to one of my requests; I’m skeptical that they’re telling the truth, but won’t press the issue. They haven’t replied to either of my other requests yet, alas.

The Army seems to be better at passing requests up and down and all around the chain of command than at actually, you know, responding to them. That said, I received a postcard this week, letting me know that a two-month-old request had been “received” and had been placed into the “complex” track. Yes, a postcard – that’s apparently the opposite end of the spectrum from a registered letter, one of which you might recall I received from the USAF a few weeks ago. The information on the postcard is pretty much completely useless; the date doesn’t correspond particularly closely to any request I’ve made, and since they don’t say what the request was, I have no idea which request I should expect a response to in, oh, about two years. (That’s my estimate, not theirs.)

I attempted to get some information from a couple of Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices last week, and had to – wait for it – send snail mail, as none of the field offices in question had any FOIA information on their websites – and two of them didn’t even have a fax number! It’s only been in force for a few months, but the Department of Homeland Security’s new user-friendly FOIA guidelines have really spoiled me…

Don’t think I’ve turned into some kind of DHS fanboi, though; they recently responded to a request for documents I’m 99.9% certain exist with an incredibly weaselly-worded response, saying (I paraphrase here) “no records with the precise title specified were located”. Oh, and Customs and Border Patrol is withholding over seven-hundred pages of “responsive” documents to one of my requests in their entirety, for a variety of (in my opinion, bogus) reasons. How can training manuals given to students be “pre-decisional”? Humans…

Well, that’s it, at least for this Friday. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice, as Red Green would say…

Published in: General | on February 22nd, 2008| Comments Off on Friday FOIA Stuff

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